picayune

noun
pic·​a·​yune | \ˌpi-kē-ˈyün \

Definition of picayune 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a Spanish half real piece formerly current in the South

b : half dime

2 : something trivial

picayune

adjective

Definition of picayune (Entry 2 of 2)

: of little value : paltry also : petty, small-minded

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Other Words from picayune

Adjective

picayunish \ ˌpi-​kē-​ˈyü-​nish \ adjective

Did You Know?

Adjective

In the 19th century, in Louisiana and other southern states, a picayune was a small coin (specifically, a Spanish half real) with a low monetary value. The coin's name derives from picaioun, a word that means "small coin" in Occitan (a language spoken in Southern France). It ultimately derives from the Occitan word pica, which means "to jingle" and which was created to mimic the sound of coins jingling. The real as a monetary unit fell out of use, however, and picayune joined two bits in the category of small amounts of money whose name eventually came to be used instead for things that are paltry and small.

Examples of picayune in a Sentence

Noun

our lives don't amount to a picayune in the great scheme of things

Adjective

They argued over the most picayune details. the picayune ponderings of a commentator who steadfastly believes other cultures are inferior to our own
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

No detail was too insignificant; no question too picayune for our scrutiny. Sarah Lyall, BostonGlobe.com, "There’s a big wedding Saturday. Something about a prince marrying an American," 15 May 2018 No detail was too insignificant; no question too picayune for our scrutiny. Sarah Lyall, BostonGlobe.com, "There’s a big wedding Saturday. Something about a prince marrying an American," 15 May 2018 More often than not, the police station fielded neighborhood disputes that were remarkable for their picayune character. Rukmini Callimachi, New York Times, "The Case of the Purloined Poultry: How ISIS Prosecuted Petty Crime," 1 July 2018 The cascade of picayune tariffs and aggressive trade rhetoric directed indiscriminately against allies and competitors alike could inflict lasting damage on US companies’ ability to compete globally. Zachary Karabell, WIRED, "Trump's Trade War Won't Hurt China. It Could Hurt US Tech," 27 June 2018 No detail was too insignificant; no question too picayune for our scrutiny. Sarah Lyall, BostonGlobe.com, "There’s a big wedding Saturday. Something about a prince marrying an American," 15 May 2018 No detail was too insignificant; no question too picayune for our scrutiny. Sarah Lyall, BostonGlobe.com, "There’s a big wedding Saturday. Something about a prince marrying an American," 15 May 2018 No detail was too insignificant; no question too picayune for our scrutiny. Sarah Lyall, BostonGlobe.com, "There’s a big wedding Saturday. Something about a prince marrying an American," 15 May 2018 No detail was too insignificant; no question too picayune for our scrutiny. Sarah Lyall, BostonGlobe.com, "There’s a big wedding Saturday. Something about a prince marrying an American," 15 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'picayune.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of picayune

Noun

1804, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

1836, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for picayune

Noun

Occitan picaioun, a small coin, from picaio money, from pica to jingle, of imitative origin

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Dictionary Entries near picayune

picaro

picaroon

Picasso

picayune

piccadilly

piccage

piccalilli

Statistics for picayune

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Time Traveler for picayune

The first known use of picayune was in 1804

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More Definitions for picayune

picayune

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of picayune

: not very valuable or important

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Comments on picayune

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